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Monday, 1 September 2014
Page: 9243

Mr BROAD (Mallee) (20:45): I rise to speak on the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Intercountry Adoption) Bill 2014 because I think it is a very important bill. Sometimes in the quest for power that is the federal parliament— (Quorum formed) The value of interpersonal relationships are sometimes lost in this place, the place of power, the place where people aspire to great leadership. But, really, what is it that matters? It is family. Family is one of the key statutes of Australian society. We have strong families and from those families we build communities and from communities we build countries. But understanding families and understanding the values of families is very important.

One of the things that is very important to families is the upbringing of children. For couples that are unable to have children, it is always a heartbreaking experience; it leaves them somewhat hollow at times. To be able to take the wealth that is in Australia and to be able to provide a safe and secure home to a child from another part of the world that has not had that opportunity is a wonderful thing. To have legislation that is freeing that up is something we should be proud of. It is something I think is a great tribute to our Prime Minister. It is one of the very important pieces of legislation that he personally introduced into this chamber.

This bill amends the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 to allow children adopted under a bilateral arrangement to apply for Australian citizenship in their country of origin. The bill will streamline access to citizenship for children adopted by at least one parent who is an Australian citizen under a bilateral agreement with certain countries. At this time those countries include: Taiwan, south Korea and South Africa as well as past adoptions from Ethiopia. It means that these children will no longer require a visa to enter Australia.

In the words of the Prime Minister:

For too long adoption has been in the too hard basket.

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… adoption is about giving children a better life.

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The government wants to make it easier to adopt when it is in the best interests of the child.

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It is red tape that impacts on children who legitimately need a safe and loving home and Australians who dream of providing that home.

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At present, children adopted under bilateral arrangements require a passport from the home country and an Australian adoption visa to travel to Australia. This imposes additional complexity and cost on adopting families. Under the arrangements to be made by this bill, children will be able to be granted citizenship as soon as the adoption is finalised. They will then be able to travel to Australia on an Australian passport, with their new families, as Australian citizens.

One of the great things about Australia is our diversity. What we have seen out of that diversity is that people are able to adopt children from other countries and are not looked at differently. Intercountry adoption is not looked at with disdain. In fact there are groups around that can offer support and ensure that a child from another country also has some expression and some contact with their own culture as they become a citizen of Australia and get involved with the culture here.

It is the good pieces of legislation that lift the Westminster system. It is the good pieces of legislation that restore belief in the Australian parliamentary system and this is a good piece of legislation. This in time will allow families to grow. It will allow kids to have love that they would never have had and will allow future citizens of Australia to look back at this piece of legislation and say, 'Wasn't it good that there were men of wisdom, men of character and women in this chamber who saw the value of intercountry adoption, saw the value of the great Australian dream of having a family and passed this legislation.' I commend this legislation to the House.